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WHAT IF

The Story
What If the right person comes along at exactly the wrong time? That question frames the story and eats at the hearts of our star-crossed would-be lovers. Screenwriter Elan Mastai explains, -It's about those undeniable connections you make with people that aren't always convenient. Timing is such a big part of finding the right person. I like the idea of an ethical romantic comedy - people trying to do the right thing. To me the essential theme of the movie is you can't lie your way to happiness.

When he saw the production of Toothpaste and Cigars' at the Fringe Festival in Toronto, Mastai felt inspired to write a script based on the play. -The film is in many ways different but emotionally it's the same story, says Mastai. -The difference between adapting a novel is that with a novel you're always paring down but with a play/short story you get to add. It was that way with this script. There was a lot of room for me as a writer to add my own ideas. I took the play, expanded it and added characters.

After being chosen for the coveted Black List, the screenplay was picked up by David Gross and Jesse Shapira at No Trace Camping. They gave it to director Michael Dowse, who loved it upon first read and jumped on board immediately.

It has a unique voice that first and foremost is funny and I like how Elan uses the lead characters' shared sense of humor to actually create and fuel the romance, says Dowse. -For me, any time you're trying to flirt with somebody, or get in their pants, it's about comedy. That's sort of the road to that. So I think it's a smart and very realistic way of bringing these people together. They share a sort of sardonic outlook and sarcasm and they make each other laugh to make the audience laugh, and that buys a lot of empathy for the characters.

Although Dowse had never done a romantic comedy before, he's always appreciated the genre and jumped at the chance to shift the paradigm. -It's a great genre but it has been maligned by films that were either too saccharine, too hipsterish or just not funny enough, he says. -Still, I think it has a rich history of sorts with films like When Harry Met Sally, The Apartment, or Manhattan where these films can be very witty and very funny and also extremely romantic.

When you hit that sweet spot with this genre, it can become a timeless classic, a film people watch on Valentine's Day. He recognizes that it's been a while since a romantic comedy has truly broken out, but Dowse thinks WHAT IF has a chance to be embraced as one of those perennial films by this generation. -The performances, the script, the comedy and the unique visuals in the film put us in contention, he says. Having Daniel Radcliffe at the center of the story makes it even more likely that audiences will embrace the film's reinvention of the classic romantic comedy for the chance to see one of their most successful and beloved stars in a very different kind of role. -What we're seeing in this film is sort of the emergence of a new leading man, says Dowse. -This is a guy who's had a lot of success as a teenager, and well deserved, but now he's all grown up, and I think he's ready to take that next step, and he's amazing.

Radcliffe explains what attracted him to this particular story. -In a lot of romantic comedies I think it can feel a little too easy in people's relationships but this film accurately takes in some of the complexity of people's relationships. And, it is really, really funny. That was kind of the main thing that drew me towards it. Shortly after Radcliffe signed on, Dowse and the producers saw an early screening of Zoe Kazan's film, Ruby Sparks and unanimously loved her performance. -We thought Zoe would be brilliant opposite Daniel, recalls producer David Gross. Dowse met with Kazan after she read the script and found out that she was just as excited about being in the film as they were to have her. -We were fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a diverse and talented group of actors, says Gross.

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